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How a ‘Go With the Flow’ Mindset Can Help Your Business Succeed

This was originally written for AllBusiness.

When we “grow up” in the business world, we are taught the importance of hitting goals within a timeline:

Close the sale this week! Call 25 new prospects! Get a yes today!

And yet this is a very masculine approach to business. I’m not talking gender here, but rather energy. Masculine energy in the workplace looks like:

  • Go-go-go

  • Work 60+ hours, regardless of need

  • Push to close the deal

  • Be aggressive

But as we see more of a spiritual approach to business, we are also seeing the feminine aspect come in, which often involves:

  • Waiting to respond

  • Allowing

  • Listening to intuition

  • Using compassion

It’s when we allow this feminine aspect in that we invite flow in.

What is Flow in Business?

When you try to force something, how often do you actually achieve what you wanted? Maybe you’re trying to close a deal. The potential client hasn’t given you an answer. So you call her.

And email her.

And tweet her.

As a result, she never responds and you lose the sale. What might have happened if you just allowed things to take their natural course? Maybe she didn’t respond because she was ill. Maybe she just takes longer to make a decision. In that case, you forcing the issue will not convince her to buy your product.

Sales experts try to convince us that if you let a lead get cold, you’ll never make the sale. That’s a masculine point of view. Certainly, follow up. But then back off. Realize that you likely aren’t the center of this potential customer’s world, and by bugging them too much, you may lose the opportunity.

Yes, it takes a shift to move from that assertive/aggressive approach to sales we’ve all been taught to simply sitting back and waiting, but in my mind, the latter is a better way to succeed in business.

When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

If you have a business plan, I invite you to take it out and look at it. Depending on the last time you updated it, the goals you have in your plan may no longer align with where your business is.

And that’s okay.

Businesses are living, breathing entities. They are meant to change and adapt to their surroundings (how many of us had to adapt because of the pandemic? Show of hands?). A business plan should be only a loose guide for where you want to take your business in the immediate future. It should be updated to reflect where you currently are. You might need to change your target audience, the products you offer, your price point, or your marketing plan.

I’ve learned the hard way not to expect things to go according to plan. Clients abruptly end contracts. Project scopes shift and creep. Clients pay late. Rather than get bent out of shape that things aren’t going the way you expected them to, just let go of expectations and go with the flow in business.

To Go with the Flow, See the Big Picture

When I used to lose a client, my mind would immediately go into panic mode, thinking about the loss of income. That no longer happens because time and again, I have seen that gap in income replaced by an even bigger client.

It’s often hard to see beyond the moment you’re in, especially if you have no idea how the problem will be rectified. Just remember: this is temporary, and there’s a reason for everything. You may have had a client leave to make room for an even bigger and better one a few months down the road.

Just try to be present and know that good things are coming.

An Exercise for Allowing the Flow

If you’re Type A, the idea of going with the flow in business probably is stressing you out. You have trouble letting go of expectations. Let me ask you: what good does having those expectations do if they always fall short?

Humor me by trying out this meditation and visualization.

Get comfortable and close your eyes. Take three deep breaths.

Envision a stream, with water flowing in one direction. Simply observe the water for a while.

Now imagine the issue that is bothering you. If it’s a demanding client, see that person. If it’s a stack of unpaid bills, see the bills. Whatever the thing is, see it flowing down the stream away from you.

Let it drift away.

You might even snicker a little to see your demanding client flailing as he flows down the stream. Humor is healing.

Now see something positive replacing that first stressful thing you sent away. See clients you love working with. See piles of money. This you can envision flowing toward you from upstream. See yourself standing in the water, accepting this gift. Feel gratitude for the gift.

Take three more breaths. Open your eyes.

You can do this visualization any time you feel blocked or stressed by a situation. You might even write down what you see so you can look back to see how you overcame those obstacles later.

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